Hundreds flocked to the Ararat Cenotaph today to commemorate ANZAC Day, and to pay their respects to those who have served our country.
Returned Services League of Ararat president Frank Neulist began the 10am service by commenting on the large number of lives lost during the World Wars and the impact they had on an entire generation.
“The First World War was viewed by many as a birth of Australia’s nationhood. This has significantly contributed to the unexpected but natural rise of the ANZAC spirit,” Neulist said.
This year’s special guest focused on war animals and the role they have within the army.
Founding President of the Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation
Senior Constable Nigel Allsopp recounted many stories of the work animals have done and the important jobs they undertook.
“We could not have fought World War I, and to some extent previous wars since then, without the aid of animals,” Allsopp said.
He shared one story about a determined messenger pigeon which left the audience deeply inspired.
“This particular pigeon was released. Unfortunately, as it started to fly – to return to the headquarters with its message – it was shot and its wing was severed so it spiralled down to the ground.”
“Then a short time after, a piece of shrapnel exploded nearby and the shrapnel went into the pigeon’s chest. A little time [later] it succumbed to a gas attack which blinded it in the left eye.”
“That pigeon… had the idea to walk the three kilometres back to headquarters to deliver its message, where it died in its handler’s hands.”
Allsopp encouraged people to purchase a purple poppy next time, as well as a red poppy, to recognise both humans and animals for their brave efforts.
Wreaths were laid in the middle of the service by organisations, schools and individuals, adding to the vibrant colours of the floral tribute.
Ararat College student Tylah Moana spoke on behalf of Ararat’s Maori community and he gave young person’s perspective on ANZAC Day.
“To all my peers, I give you a challenge to do with me: to learn more about our ANZAC soldiers, to learn more about the importance of today. Remember the sacrifice they gave so we all have the lives we have,” Moana said.
He was joined by fellow community members who performed the Lord’s Prayer in Maori, and the Haka.
Ararat West and Ararat 800 Primary Schools sang the New Zealand and Australia National Anthems before Salvation Army Captain Greg Turnbull gave the final blessing.
Naval members of the HMAS Cerberus also attended and stood at each corner of the Cenotaph as the service unfolded.
-Producer & Anchor
-Founder of AC News in 2017